Evel Knievel, possibly the maddest motorcycle stunt rider ever, wasn't an energy drink-sponsored 'athlete.' He was a hard-drinking, wild-living, old school showman...
“The water is very important because you’ve got to get the maximum amount of pressure and the maximum amount of thrust for the jump. A steam rocket needs the best there is. I heat it at 500 degrees and let it drop off at 420. I open the valve, let the water from the heater into the rocket and when it drops from 500 to 420, the engineer, Bob Truax, points at me. I’m looking right up the ramp over the Canyon,” said Evel Knievel, talking to Overdrive magazine for their February 1973 issue. Evel was talking to them about preparing for his Snake River Canyon jump, which he went on to perform in September 1974, aboard his custom-built steam rocket-powered Skycycle X2.
“I go at 350 miles an hour in 8 seconds and hope like hell I get there. If I do, I drop down to both knees, grab a handful of dirt and thank God Almighty that I’m still alive. If I splat against the wall, I just get somewhere quicker where you’re going someday, and I’ll wait for you. Dying is part of living,” said Knievel back then, every bit the swaggering American motorcycle daredevil that he was. “You can’t practice it. It’s a one-shot deal. The Skycycle must go up 1,000 feet up at 350 miles an hour in eight seconds, or it’s all over for me,” he added.
Even in this day and age of various Red Bull-sponsored ‘athletes’ who pull off unbelievably spectacular stunts on an assortment of motorcycles, the late, great, Evel Knievel stands in a league of his own. In an era when motorcycles were still very simple and Photoshop and computer graphics hadn’t been invented, Evel jumped across cars and buses and Canyons on his bikes, often with little or no regard for his own personal well-being. Oh, sure, he earned big money and enjoyed spending it too. “I spend it all. I don’t believe in saving it. I’m risking my life for it and I’m going to blow every goddamn dime of it! You know, I love this life I lead. I play golf every day and I bet big money on it. I bet three or four thousand a day on a golf game. These guys I play with think that there’s a lot of pressure on me when I play a golf game because of the money. Hell, they don’t know what pressure is. They should see me face those 16 semis off of that takeoff ramp,” he said in that interview that he gave to Overdrive.